June 20, 2013
Ottawa… The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is celebrating National Aboriginal Day by reinforcing its commitment to advocating for the provision of quality education that better meets the needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
“As poverty and its accompanying challenges continue to plague Aboriginal peoples, the necessity of focusing national attention on the improvement of Aboriginal children’s education is more important than ever,” says CTF President Paul Taillefer.
Taillefer points to the recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (PDF), released June 19, which found 50% of Aboriginal students are living in poverty, more than three times their non-Aboriginal counterparts. That means 50% of Aboriginal children are at a greater risk of struggling in the classroom—teachers have observed that students have trouble focusing when they are hungry or tired.
“It’s equally important to respect the traditions and culture of Aboriginal groups as we strive to find solutions together.”
Taillefer says the CTF shares many priorities with Aboriginal organizations. The CTF, he says, values security, acceptance, diversity and the promotion of these tenets to children highly.
The CTF will explore the potential for positive change at its upcoming Presidents’ Forum, July 8-9 in Ottawa, which will focus on First Nations, Métis and Inuit education. The forum will bring together Aboriginal, teacher, community and government leaders to discuss the issues with which Aboriginal students and teachers grapple, as well as to explore possible solutions.
Mary Simon, Canada’s first Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, is among the many speakers who will take part. Students from Westwood High School in St. Lazare, PQ, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau School in Gatineau, PQ, who participated in the CTF and the Assembly of First Nations’ Project of Heart, will also make a presentation.
“We’re looking forward to hearing the ideas brought forward by Member organizations and other education partners when we see their representatives next month,” Taillefer says. “Together with Aboriginal teachers and communities, we hope we can encourage our federal government to diminish disparities in access to fundamental education and improve the lives of children.”
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation is an alliance of nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary educators from 16 organizations (15 Members and one Affiliate Member) across Canada. Follow the CTF on Twitter: @CanTeachersFed and @EnseigneCanada.